The Excel Bottling Company in Breese, IL, has been making popular local soft drinks such as Ski soda since 1936. Excel recently diversified into craft brewing to address the growing market for unique new beer flavors and to leverage the advantages of its long-established bottling line, distribution system, and loyal customer base. Essential to this expansion was a reliable and cost-effective source of steam to serve the company's new venture, current needs, and potential future expansion. After researching various boiler brands and models, Excel Bottling management and brewmaster/quality control manager Tony Toenjes chose a gas-fired modular LX-50 boiler from Miura.
"We first saw the Miura LX-50 in a trade publication and quickly saw the benefits of its high-efficiency, low-maintenance design, which we needed," Toenjes said. "It doesn't require a boiler operator to constantly watch over it. Best of all, I can hit the button on the Miura LX-50 and in five minutes be up to steam, which is amazing. I used to work at an ethanol plant and the giant boilers there would take forever to get up to pressure."
The boilers employ a "once-through" fin-tube design that heats a smaller volume of water more efficiently than other boilers. This design enables the boilers to generate full steam from a cold start in five minutes or less. This on-demand steam capability enables the boilers to be turned on or off as needed to manage changing load conditions, as opposed to idling in stand-by and consuming energy.
On-demand steam, combined with built-in microprocessor-control technology, conserves fuel, saving an average of 20 percent annually on energy costs over other boiler designs for typical installations.
"We are energy conscious, and know that the Miura LX-50 will save us quite a bit in the long term," Toenjes said. "Just the fact that the boiler doesn't have to be running all the time or take two hours to get up to pressure is great. It maintains pressure and does a really nice job."
In addition to on-demand steam and energy-conservation benefits, Miura boilers – as compared to conventional boilers – also output reduced levels of nitrogen oxides (NOx), a major contributor to air pollution, as well as carbon dioxide, the most prevalent of greenhouse gases. The boilers achieve low-NOx performance by reducing the temperature of the boiler's flame, which in turn reduces the amount of excited nitrogen atoms available to bond with oxygen to form nitrogen oxides. As a result of this, NOx emissions are reduced to around one-quarter of what traditional fire-tube boilers emit. This enables the boilers to comply with even the most stringent air-quality regulations.
"The ecology aspect of Miura is important to us," Toenjes said. "We have been doing returnable soda bottles for years. Now we can run a steam line to a solution heat exchanger and do returnable beer bottles as well. What's also nice is that the precedent's been set – in California and other places – for the low-emissions performance of this boiler. Should our state ever want to know about our greenhouse gas emissions, Miura already has the supporting evidence, which would be expensive if we had to test for it ourselves."
The new boiler will provide far more steam capacity than was previously available at the bottling facility.
"Having a boiler such as this enables us to hook other things up to it. It's just getting the steam over to where you need it and bringing the condensate back," Toenjes said. "Our steam system has been designed so it can expand into our warehouse. We can hook up all our gas overhead heaters to steam. Our soda/keg washer can be steam-driven. We will also be able to eliminate the solution heater, a gas-fired giant hot water heater that we use for sterilizing bottles. That will free up more space because we'll just need a small heat exchanger for the water."
"From a steam standpoint we are going to be doing even more brewing," he added. "We have already doubled our capacity by adding a new 40-barrel fermentor and are brewing upwards of 100 barrels per month. We've got a combination mash tun/lauter tun, a brew kettle, and a hot water tank all in a line. It was a challenge to put it all together in the space we had, and I can't praise the guys at American Boiler enough for what they did. They did a beautiful job in how they made all the connections."
For more information on Miura Boilers, visit www.miuraboiler.com.